For all the celebrations and good cheer, Lunar New Year also has its winners and losers. Where do we shop? Which restaurants do we eat in? Who do we choose to celebrate with? To find out who “won” Lunar New Year 2018, digital marketing agency Digitas turned to that modern barometer of social behaviour, Instagram.

“Each time you post from your smartphone to Instagram, you are not only uploading a photo, but also additional data: information such as where you were standing when you took the shot, the hashtag used and the time you posted are all recorded,” says David Atkins, strategy director at Digitas Hong Kong.

In fact, each post contains about 55 data points, and that is before looking at the content of the photos – including faces and objects – that can now be analysed via machine learning.

China at rest: what Lunar New Year looks like through its most popular social media platform

Taken individually, such images mean little, says Atkins, but viewed collectively, they provide a greater understanding of how people live their lives.

Working with social content marketing platform Stackla, Digitas was able to collate Instagram posts from across Hong Kong during the holiday period with hashtags relating to Lunar New Year. By running them through Google’s Vision platform, the agency identified nearly half a million data points from 7,450 Instagram posts.

Hongkongers pile into the park for all the fun of the Lunar New Year fair

“Although our selfies may seem inconsequential at the time, taken as a whole, they paint a rich and vibrant picture of Hong Kong society,” says Atkins. “Our cumulative posts accurately portray and record culture, and the way it evolves over time. Through this exercise, we’ve been able to gain an understanding of the traditions we hold dear, the brands we allow into our lives, and even – through facial recognition – the city’s collective mood.”

So, who were Lunar New Year 2018’s winners and losers?

FRIENDS VS FAMILY

Lunar New Year is traditionally all about family, but did Hongkongers prefer to hang out with friends or relatives this year?

The winner, with 75 per cent of posts: friends.

HIKING VS SHOPPING

They are two favourite local pastimes, but did the escalators of city malls outdo the trails to Lion Rock?

Winner, with 77 per cent: shopping.

CHICKEN VS SEAFOOD

Lunar New Year’s Eve dinner is one of the most important meals of the year, but which lucky ingredient did Hong Kong plump for?

Winner, with 55 per cent: seafood.

MAN MO VS WONG TAI SIN

Paying respects to ancestors and praying for health and prosperity are traditional in the run-up to Lunar New Year. But where did we light our incense in 2018?

Winner, with 52 per cent: Man Mo Temple.

DOGS VS CATS

By common consent, the internet was created for sharing pictures of cats. But did the arrival of the Year of the Dog tip the balance in favour of canines?

Winner, with 79 per cent: dogs.

CARNIVAL VS PARADE

Extravagant displays of music and colour go hand in hand with Lunar New Year. As the big brands flexed their sponsorship muscles, did the Cathay Pacific International Chinese New Year Parade (above right) beat the AIA Great European Carnival (above left)?

Winner, with 73 per cent: the carnival.

TIMES SQUARE VS HARBOUR CITY

Elaborate displays in red and gold adorn the city’s malls during Lunar New Year. But which attracted the most selfies, Times Square or Harbour City?

Winner, with 64 per cent: Harbour City.

THE PENINSULA VS THE MANDARIN ORIENTAL

For many families, luxury hotels are central to Lunar New Year celebrations. Which of these two iconic Hong Kong properties captured the public’s hearts in 2018?

Winner, with 80 per cent: The Peninsula.